President and CEO
Military Aircraft and Missile Systems
"Transforming Aerospace: A Submariner's View"
November 29, 2001
It is a pleasure to be here at the cradle of aviation -- two years and two weeks before the 100th anniversary of the "Miracle at Kitty Hawk."
In paying tribute to Orville and Wilbur, historian Darrel Collins noted: "Before the Wright Brothers, no one in aviation did anything fundamentally right; since the Wright Brothers, no one has done anything fundamentally different."
Since 1903, every successful airplane has rolled the wings, pitched the nose, and yawed from side to side. And so have other vehicles.
I spent 12 years in the Navy as part of our submarine force. I can tell you: With a high-speed sub; you don't "steer"; you "fly."
Using an airplane-like yoke control, you bank, climb, and dive. It's an exhilarating experience -- under water as well as in the air.
So Dayton, really, can claim to be the birthplace of every vehicle that is dependent upon three-axis control systems in moving through a fluid medium. That includes aircraft, subs, cruise missiles, and even spacecraft.
For you history buffs, it is interesting to note that the Wright Brothers shared airplane designs . . . and even office space . . . with Simon Lake, one of the great pioneers of the modern submarine.
Unlike others who preceded them, the Wright Brothers embraced the idea that their vehicle would more closely resemble the precarious bicycle rather than the steady wagon.
They saw the airplane as an inherently unstable vehicle, yet one that could, through calculation and boldness, be mastered or controlled.
And that, it seems to me, provides an apt metaphor and starting point for examining the future of warfare.
We live in an unstable and extremely volatile world. You know that. It would be true even if September 11th had not happened.
Since the end of the Cold War, we have seen an extraordinary increase in ethnic and religious conflicts in many parts of the globe. We have seen further proliferation in advanced weapon systems. We have seen terrorist organizations become bolder and better coordinated. And we have witnessed an extraordinary dichotomy in human development -- a rapid advancement in freedom and democracy in some parts of the world, and a swift decline into primitive theocracies in others.
The question is: Will we be overwhelmed by the instability of the world we live in, or will we find the means to master it and control it.
If Phil Condit were here today, he would, I am sure, address that question in the broadest possible way. As CEO of the world's biggest aerospace company, Phil likes to talk about how Boeing serves two great functions -- "connecting" and "protecting" people.
Every day, Boeing jetliners carry more than two and a half million people from one point on the globe to another. That's one way of connecting people.
We also connect people in a wide variety of other ways involving satellites and space-based navigation and communication systems.
However, as president and CEO of one part of the company -- Boeing Military Aircraft and Missile Systems -- I will address the question from a narrower viewpoint.
I want to concentrate on what we need to do -- within the Armed Services and within the defense industry -- to protect our country and, indeed, the world against a growing multiplicity of threats.
Clearly, there is one place to start. We must cast aside every vestige of Cold War thinking. We need nothing less than a "transformation," as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has repeatedly observed.
In today's world, we face not one monolithic enemy, but a wide assortment of enemies. None of them has any desire to stand up and fight -- their army against our army, their Navy against our Navy, or their Air Force against our Air Force.
General Tony Zinni put it very succinctly . . . and with the natural eloquence of the Marine Corps . . . when he said: "The only reason Desert Storm worked was because we managed to go against the only jerk on the planet who actually was stupid enough to confront us symmetrically."
Bin Laden will not make the same mistake.
So what are the real trends in warfare today?
Let's look at four of them. Let's look first from the enemy's perspective -- and then from our own. Who will gain the upper hand in the mastery of these trends?
The first is stealth, or, the flip side of the same coin, detection. Where is bin Laden? We don't know. So there is more to stealth than a low radar signature.
A second trend is the ability to network and operate on a global basis. Atta and his gang of 19 moved around the world with great ease, supported, at every turn, by a larger network of planners and accomplices.
A third trend is the ability to strike from a very long distance, and to do so at an acceptable cost. It makes sense to think of the gang that steered our airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as robots, or non-humans. They were programmed to do a mission by others who were far removed in action. They were, and are, expendable . . . replaceable . . . and, unfortunately, highly lethal.
A fourth trend is affordability. It is estimated that most deadly attack ever experienced by U.S. citizens on our home soil was supported by a budget of just $500,000.
Is it within our power to turn these same trends to our advantage? It is not only possible, but it is absolutely imperative that we do so.
Take my first point: stealth, or detection. We're fighting bin Laden's form of stealth not just with stealthy aircraft, but with greatly improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. I will say more about that in a moment.
Global networking -- the second trend -- is working for us as well as against us. It is my belief that we will never fight alone again, but always in coalitions involving our NATO partners and others.
This has important ramifications in terms of defense procurement. It means that we need greater interoperability and common equipment that will allow our Armed Forces - and those of our partners -- to fight together as one.
That brings me to the third trend. Given an identifiable target, we can outdo any enemy in launching a precision strike at a very long distance.
In doing so, over the last decade, we have placed an increasing reliance on missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.
This gets to the heart of the issue of being able to strike with impunity -- or without incurring unacceptable losses. We can and must accelerate the development of unmanned vehicles that do all of the things that manned aircraft do, and more, at substantially less cost.
Right now we are using unmanned aerial vehicles primarily for surveillance in Afghanistan. However, the unmanned X-45 -- now under development at Boeing -- is a true combat vehicle.
It is designed to suppress an enemy's air defenses in the early stages of an attack. This UCAV, or unmanned combat aerial vehicle, will cost only about a third as much as a manned fighter, and it will carry out the most dangerous of all aerial missions, without putting a pilot or crew into harm's way.
This brings me to the fourth trend -- affordability.
If our enemies are both numerous and capable of operating on a shoestring, then surely we cannot be satisfied with anything that resembles a gold-plated defense posture.
DoD was struggling to make ends meet even before the war on terrorism began. Now, the need to strengthen our homeland defense, will strain our nation's resources further.
As John Correll noted recently in his excellent column in Air Force magazine: "There is little margin for playing off the needs of today against the needs of tomorrow. Our counter-terror requirements are in addition to, not instead of, other military requirements."
So far I have spoken of certain trends in warfare as though each were distinct and separate. Now let's look at how they might fit together. This is where we have the potential for a real transformation in how we organize and prepare our defenses -- today, tomorrow and well into the future.
As an old submariner, I know how one looks for a good hiding place and then tries to remain absolutely still. However, whether you are sitting on the bottom of the ocean, or the bottom of a mountain, in a small cavity of air, eventually you have to move. And that is when you become vulnerable.
But the fact is, we are not nearly as good as we could be when it comes to finding and engaging a moving target. While we have unmanned aerial vehicles and space-based systems and devices that will detect movement, at present there is very little real-time sharing of that information with a shooter -- whether it is a B-52 with JDAMs ... an F/A-18 with SLAM-ERs ... or a sub with Tomahawk missiles. Under present circumstances, minutes, and perhaps hours, will pass before information is processed and relayed to a shooter. By that time, it may be too late to matter.
We must step up efforts to move to a system-of-systems form of warfare that enhances our ability to detect our enemies, makes more timely and effective use of existing assets and acts as a force multiplier.
Let me cite a humdrum example of true interoperability -- from the civilian world.
Regardless of what kind of a laptop computer you use, you know that you can go to just about any business-class hotel in the world, and use your computer to access the Internet and to connect real-time with your home office. You can plug and play in any hotel room.
We can get to a similar state in the military sphere, but only if we are truly serious about effecting a transformation in how we think and act. If that is where we want to go -- and I hope it is -- we must be much more willing to accept common standards and practices.
We should have synergy in avionics, rather than unique avionics, for every platform, whether it is an F-22, an F/A-18, or -- further afield -- an Abrams tank, a Trident submarine, or the combat arms of our allies.
If it is a true transformation that we are striving for, we need to take advantage of complementary capabilities in the military and commercial worlds that are just waiting to be captured.
Look, for example, at the airborne infrastructure supporting the B-2. Flying out of its base at Knob Noster, Missouri, the B-2 is the ultimate long-distance bomber. If it is operating between the U.S. and the Middle East, it must be refueled in the air three or four times -- both coming and going. And to find its target, it relies, in part, on surveillance and communication aircraft operating in the area.
While the B-2 is state-of-the-art, most of the supporting cast of tankers and surveillance aircraft are 40 years old or older. Most airlines retired their Boeing 707s years ago.
Yet the U.S. Air Force and allied air forces are still using the 707 airframe for most of their aerial refueling tankers and surveillance aircraft.
This is so even though the Boeing 767 airframe will do all of the same tasks a whole lot better. It will carry a greater payload, fly longer, faster and higher. It will provide superior fuel economy with substantially less maintenance and downtime. What's more, spare parts are readily available for the 767 because it is both in production and in service with airlines around the world.
So, in my opinion, we really need to pick up the pace in modernizing the tanker and surveillance fleets. Not to do so, in present circumstances, ignores both the needs of today and the needs of tomorrow.
Let me return to the Boeing X-45. This will be the first unmanned combat vehicle to come out of a major development program. And it is our real ace in the hole when it comes to the fighter business of tomorrow.
As disappointing as it was to lose the Joint Strike Fighter, this program is not a true game-changer. But unmanned combat air vehicles are. UCAVs are a game-changer.
If anything is clear about the future beyond the next decade, it is the likelihood -- indeed, the inevitability -- of a pronounced shift from manned to unmanned aircraft in carrying out a growing array of combat missions.
At Boeing, we're working hard capture this emerging business. In fact, just two weeks ago, we announced a new business organization to lead us into the unmanned systems of the next decade.
This shift will take place as part of a larger transformation in military affairs. In the past, we have put enormous resources and intelligence into each new generation of platform -- whether airplane, tank, or ship.
In the future, we will put more and more of the intelligence at a higher level -- in the network that ties all of the individual platforms together and that provides all of our warfighters not just with air superiority, but with true information dominance.
In closing, let me just say that I would love to come back here on Dec. 17, 2003, for the 100th anniversary of the first manned and powered flight.
Speaking as someone with more than fifteen thousand "flight" hours aboard some of our Navy's finest submarines, I defer to no one in my admiration for the Wright Brothers.
But I beg to differ with the scholar who said that there was nothing fundamentally different in aviation since their historic first flight. We are entering a whole new era of unmanned flight. That is something that will make the 21st century fundamentally different than the 20th.
And not only that, but the century-old disconnect between the earth and the air is coming to an end. With new space-based networks and systems, we are going to connect people on the ground, at sea, and in the air in new and fundamentally different ways.
I firmly believe that the 21st century is going to be the most exciting century in the history of flight.